Did the government block bill to keep Tibi out of Knesset?

MK Liberman's bill would have kept High Court from intervening in Election Committee decisions to block parties from running.

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Shimon Cohen,

Minister Yariv Levin
Minister Yariv Levin
Hadas Parush / Flash 90

Yisrael Beytenu Chairman, MK Avigdor Liberman, blasted the current government last week for refusing to support a bill he has proposed, which would have prevented the High Court from intervening in Elections Committee decisions to disqualify certain parties from running for the Knesset.

According to Liberman, the High Court has struck down past decisions by the Elections Committee to keep radical Arab lists under MK Ahmed Tibi and ex-MK Azmi Bishara from running. As a result, the extremists have been allowed to run, and the Knesset has been "occupied," for years, by Arab MKs who are hostile to the Jewish state.

Therefore, Liberman reasoned, if the court is prevented from intervening in decisions by the Elections Committee, which is a political body, Tibi and his ilk can be kept out of the Knesset.

However, Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) told Arutz Sheva Monday that the bill is simply a bad idea. Minister Levin explained that barring the High Court from undoing Elections Committee decisions would endanger democracy and could boomerang against the nationalist camp.

If such a law is passed, he pointed out, ruling parties would be able to decide between themselves which parties to disqualify, based on electoral considerations. "For instance, the Likud and the Zionist Camp could get together and decide to disqualify Yisrael Beytenu, or disqualify the Jewish Home, or any other party, because they bother them electorally."

Possible abuse of the law

In addition, he noted, a situation could arise in which the Right does not have a majority in the Elections Committee. In such a situation, left wing parties could decide to disqualify nationalist parties under the pretext that anyone who favors settlement in Judea and Samaria is a war criminal and is thus barred from running, or that a party that criticizes the High Court is ineligible for running, and so on.

Levin said that the way to stop the High Court from allowing radical lists to run is to change the makeup of the Committee for Selection of Judges, and to make sure that the court is manned by people who reflect the full political spectrum in Israel. He said that Yisrael Beytenu could have helped made this happen in previous governments, but it did not cooperate with initiatives designed to effect the change.

Levin added that Yisrael Beytenu's decision to stay out of the current Coalition is "scandalous," and that the way to effect the changes Liberman says he wants is to join the government. He noted that if Liberman had joined the Coalition, and if Eli Yishai's party did not fail to pass the threshold for entering the Knesset, the government could have had a comfortable 70-seat majority and not a razor thin 61-seat majority.